Financial Must-Do’s for NRIs Returning to India

I hope everyone is safe. Not just the pandemic but even otherwise, with the economy, things are looking bleak for NRIs stuck in the USA.

Layoffs and cost -cutting measures are more frequent and is raising questions on whether to make the return-move now than later.

Whether you’re planning to move back to India next month or next year, here is a list of personal finance must-do’s that every NRI planning to return to India for good, might want to consider.

Network like crazy – find prospective employers!

I’m not exaggerating it.

It’s very unlikely that you will get a solid job offer in your hand before returning. There are plenty of reasons for it.

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However, the best you can do is to have a list of prospective employers.

The reason you may not get a job offer in your hand is that most recruiters in India don’t really know how to handle NRIs or have the wrong perception about them.

One, because of high salary expectations.

Recruiters are reluctant to talk to NRIs because they usually demand high salaries by US standards and sometimes feel entitled to it. Or think they do.

Indian companies cannot afford US salary expectations and recruiters are left puzzled. So, they’d rather not waste their time.

But this is not entirely true. Most NRIs are willing to take a cut in their salaries. A 30-50% cut is normal, and there have been cases where it goes beyond this rate too.

As NRIs looking for job opportunities, here’s what you can/should do before your move.

  • Connect and network with like-minded professionals in India. Probably from your own industry and expertise.
  • Connect with companies, HR professionals in your industry. Not with the idea of a job search but as a networking effort.
  • Pick brains over casual calls with HR professionals, industry experts to get an idea of what’s going on in India.
  • If possible, offer advice, consultation, etc on projects/areas you’re expert at.
  • Do not approach with the job search idea, as it might be a turn off for many.
  • Contact professional job recruiters and find out their expectations.
  • Get a good ground reality check on salary expectations.
  • Applying to job portals is probably not a good idea.

Yes, LinkedIn is your best bet. But having a pro account is not necessary.

Settle Pending Home Loans

If you have an outstanding home loan, now is the time to settle it. And there are few ways to consider.

If possible, find a tenant and rent out your home if you get a good price. Make sure that the rent is paid to the account that is linked to your home loan.

If you plan to sell your house, do no make a quick decision out of despair. You may not get a good price in this market.

Instead, appoint a real estate agency that can manage the property on your behalf. They can help you sell the property at a much bigger price, even when you’re outside the country.

Settle Credit Cards

Get an idea of how many credit cards you’ve got and try to kill them all before you leave USA.

If you leave them open, credit card debts can mount to bigger numbers every month/year and you don’t want to deal with it later.

If you have a source of income, just pay them off either fully or in parts every month. That’s possible only if you maintain a US bank account though.

If not, talk with your bank and figure out a mid-way settlement. Some banks do give 50-60% write-offs/discounts if you explain your situation and they accept it. The acceptance rate is very small but it is a measure nevertheless.

This might affect your credit score but it’d be better than having a heavy debt on you for no reason.

Either way, ignoring your debt is not a good idea as banks have collection agencies in India and they can trace you down at some point.

Get an NRE account in India

It’s surprising to know that (from our group conversations) that many NRIs didn’t bother to get an NRE account in India.

Having an NRE account is advantageous for many reasons.

  • Funds in NRE accounts are no-taxable.
  • Sending/receiving funds from India and back is easy.
  • Once in India, you’d get lot of benefits and perks being a high-value customer (assuming you maintain a good, sizable fund).

If you don’t have an NRE account, I strongly recommend you get one. But there’s a problem.

Most banks would require you to be locally present in India, and provide your NRI and Indian KYC documents in order to start an NRE account.

So, at this point when you’re abroad, it might be difficult for you get an NRE account. But if you have a good relationship with a bank in India, may be through your parents or friends/relatives in India, then I’d say use it.

Private banks might take deviations if you can promise good funds (that’s what they’re all after) so you might want to take advantage of that.

Here are some good choices for NRE accounts.

Get a Good Medical Insurance

You might have the best insurance cover in your home country but in India?

Good thing is that Indian insurance industry has grown a lot in the recent years and there are so many products available to choose from.

Pick a good medical insurance of your choice either soon after landing or if possible before it (some insurance companies don’t allow it), so that you’ve covered against all possible uncertainties.

Real Estate Purchases – May be Later?

If you have the funds, then go ahead by all means because real estate prices are low at this point and some argue that it is a good time to purchase. Some argue it is not. I’m not going to say the end word on it.

But, if you’re returning back to India, it’s perhaps a better idea to find a sustainable income first rather than going in for high-value purchases.

Once you have the job, income sources sorted out, you might be in a better position to buy.

Get Help from an Expert Financial Planner

You might be a financial expert yourself in USA (or the country you’re in). But, India is different and has her own rules. One year of NRI life can put you totally out-of-touch with the Indian ways.

So, I highly recommend that you get help from a financial planning expert even before the move.

Explain your long term/short term goals to them. They can help you make the right decisions.

Here are some of the much recommended financial planners in India to get you to start with.

All the best!

Comments welcome.

1 thought on “Financial Must-Do’s for NRIs Returning to India”

  1. I needed some help and guidance related to income tax implications for income earned overseas after returning to India. Also wanted to know about customs duties applicable to all my personal belongings upon return. Any idea?


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